WASHINGTON • All six Missouri Republicans in the U.S. House voted no on a deal cut by President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats to provide aid to hurricane victims while raising the debt limit.
Missouri was the only state with multiple House members in which all the Republicans House members in the delegation voted no.
The measure passed Friday morning in a 316-90 vote, with all of the dissenting votes coming from Republicans. GOP leaders in both the House and Senate had urged passage, even after Trump surprised them earlier this week by agreeing with Democrats on a bill that will force another vote on the debt limit in December.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 80-17 on Thursday.
All four senators from the St. Louis region voted for the measure, as did Reps. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro; Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville; and John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.
So did Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, and Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City.
Bost and Davis, along with Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, have been targeted by national Democrats as among the 80 seats they hope to win in 2018 to take control of the House.
The vote exposed a deep rift in the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate. All 17 Senate “no” votes were Republicans.
Many GOP members in Congress attacked the agreement on both policy and political grounds. On the latter point, some Republicans chafed at Democrats’ taking credit for forcing Trump to take a deal that was originally resisted by the GOP leadership and would force them to make two politically unpalatable votes on raising the debt ceiling — a toxic symbol among conservatives — over a span of three months.
Wagner issued a statement shortly after the vote, saying: “I promised the people of St. Charles, Jefferson, and St. Louis counties that I would go to Washington to cut up the government’s credit card and put a stop to wasteful federal government spending.
“What Congress voted on today did neither,” she said. “Tying reckless spending policy to desperately needed emergency disaster relief sums up what people, myself included, hate about Washington politics.”
Blunt said he supported the measure as a way to temporarily avoid a government shutdown fight and help Congress address tax reform and other big-ticket items this fall.
The other Missouri Republicans voting no were Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth; Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville; Jason Smith, R-Salem; Sam Graves, R-Tarkio; and Billy Long, R-Springfield.
Luetkemeyer said he voted no because “we must change the status quo in Washington.”
“In order to do that, we have to finally take on the tough issues we face as a nation,” he said. “Earlier this week I was proud to vote for a bill to provide emergency funding to Hurricane Harvey victims. That bill overwhelming passed the House 419-3 and should have been passed through the Senate in a matter of hours. Instead, it was filled with a number of non-related items including a raise of the debt limit without any attempt to curb future spending and another short term budget extension, once again allowing Congress to avoid making difficult decisions.”
Missouri Democrats criticized the votes.
“Of all the possible things they could have broken with President Trump on, it’s disappointing that Missouri’s Republican officeholders in the U.S. House voted against much-needed Hurricane relief for Houston,” Stephen Webber, the chair of the state Democratic Party, said.
By voting to raise the debt limit, Congress is not authorizing new spending, but simply making sure the government can borrow the money to cover the spending decisions it has already made.
But the $20 trillion debt level Luetkemeyer mentioned is symbolic because Congress has now pushed the debt to levels that some, such as the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, say would produce dire economic consequences if the federal government continues its run of deficit spending.